Valles Caldera National Preserve

One million years ago a volcanic eruption in New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains created the Valles Caldera, one of seven super volcanoes found in the world. Today this unique landscape is home to the second largest elk herd in the state as well as to bears, coyotes and other wildlife. Travelers on the Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway, which crosses the southernmost corner of the caldera, can often see the peacefully grazing herds in the vast meadows below.

The Preserve offers 54 miles of hiking trails, 30 miles of trout streams, and a variety of activi­ties including mountain biking, equestrian trail riding, hunting, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and sleigh rides. Special events such as a marathon, 80 mile mountain bike ride, moonlight skiing, and the Jemez Mountains Elk Festival are featured throughout the year. The Preserve’s goal is to provide a quality experience and to create opportunities where visitors en­counter the beauty and solitude of this incomparable landscape. The Valles Caldera is one of those places you don’t want to miss during your visit to New Mexico.


Elk and turkey hunting season is from September – November. The Valles Caldera is home to over 3,000 Rocky Mountain Elk. Access is by lottery  – which closes in April. The Caldera is a premier location to hunt a trophy bull on public land.


Trout fishing is open from mid-May to mid-October. You can find challenging wild Brown and Rainbow Trout in the Valles Caldera – which boasts open meadows with no tree cover.

San Antonio Creek
  • 14+ miles of creek
  • keep up to 5 fish
  • reserve 2 – 6 miles for you and your friends
  • Highest trout density of any New Mexico stream
East Fork of the Jemez River
  • 9+ miles of steam
  • catch and release


The Valles Caldera National Preserve is open daily from mid-May to mid-October. The Preserve features 50+ miles of hiking trails of varying difficulty. Most trails are accessibly by shuttle. Unique guided hikes are available, too.  Van tours are available for 1 – 6 hours in length. The tours can host small group sizes on trips with topics including: wildlife, geology, history, artists, archaeology, and more.


The Valles Caldera National Preserve is open from late December to mid-March. There are 29 miles of groomed trails, and 11,000+ acres of snow to break your own trails for cross county skiing and snowshoeing.  The Preserve hosts moonlight skiing and snow shoeing activities complete with bon fires to keep you warm and to guide navigation.  There are also horse drawn sleigh rides!


The Valles Caldera has on site lodging that is open from May to December.  The Lodge has 8 bedroom that sleeps up to 16 people. The Bunkhouse features 3 bedrooms and sleeps up to 12 people. Primitive camping can be allowed as part of a special event. Off site lodging is open year round. The Science Education center in Jemez Springs has 25 bedrooms that can sleep up to 50 people.

Main Entrance: Mile Marker 39 on New Mexico Highway 4

Visit the Official Website

Call us: 1.866.382.5537

Valles Caldera | Photo by Leslie E. Bucklin
Photos: Elk herds and landscapes of the Valles Caldera | Leslie E. Bucklin

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